– Apply a good dose of caution
The following applies to any collection or book for that matter. Some things are quite obvious and require nothing more than common sense, but for the sake of being clear and thorough, here it goes …
Rule #1: Keep your hands clean
Okay, this is starting to sound more like a medical procedure than a book-keeping guide; but truth be told, the first thing you should do before even touching a single page (especially for deluxe editions and general hardbacks) is to wash your hands. The more the merrier of course.
Get rid of those nasty oily fingers that will tamper your pages as soon as you make contact with them! Indeed, one of the reasons why books in general tend to start “decaying” so quickly is due to a reader’s lack of care.
Oily fingers are a natural process of the body, providing good stuff for a number of reasons (of which I’m currently not bothered to look up); but when it comes to books, they don’t work together at all … thus, making it a habit to clean your hands prior to book-handling is the first major step towards maintaining a “healthy-looking” book.
Oh and if you’re thinking of using those cool-looking white gloves … don’t. The concept of wearing them to protect (especially old) books is simply a myth. On the contrary, you’ll be damaging them more but the dirt that accumulates on the material.
So your safest bet is to wash and dry well …
Rule #2: Avoid dust and humidity
Both of the above elements are a natural impossibility to eliminate completely. No matter where you store your books, rest assured that dust and humidity will nonetheless find themselves inside and around your precious collection.
One way of reducing the effects is to store your books within a bookcase (you don’t say!) … it might seem plain and obvious at first glance but it’s not the first time I’ve seen books piled on top of each other – lying around on the floor or on surfaces close to food and drinks.
By containing your books within a restricted space, you’ll be substantially reducing the amount of exposure to these elements.
Don’t have a bookcase?
Find yourself a couple of sturdy cardboard boxes, tilt them on their sides and use them as shelves – use the lid to close the box securely. If you’ve got a large collection, then you’ll probably need more than a couple and it would be a good idea to put some kind of label on each box to mark their contents.
Remember that, whether a set of boxes or a bookcase, occasionally you need to take out the books and do some shelf dusting. Also, open and flip through those books that might not see the light of day every so often – thus avoiding any frustrating moments that may involve the pages sticking themselves together – or worse …
Rule #3: Don’t break the spines! (mainly paperbacks)
One of the most annoying things of reading a book is the moment you break its spine. Not only will that result in a couple of loose pages, but you’ll end up with a book that will frustratingly want to open up as flat as possible from the middle, every time you flip a new page.
Take care when you’re going through a book – especially paperbacks. It is almost impossible to avoid the creased line along the spine, but you CAN finish a book without breaking it in half. To do this, try not to open the pages beyond the flexible capabilities of the book – this is especially important for hardbacks and deluxe editions – which, whilst they are definitely more durable than their soft-bound counterparts, care is still essential.
Rule #4: Enjoy comfortably
Don’t find yourself in a position trying to go by all the rules and guidelines to protect your book, only to end up spoiling the reading experience itself. Going through a book should be a pleasant experience and therefore, don’t put yourself in a paranoid state of trying to keep everything as good as new – you’ll end up with a painful neck and an unpleasant feeling towards the story, no matter how good it is.
Remember, most hardbacks and deluxe editions aren’t as cheap as paperbacks for precisely this reason. Their covers and pages have been made of more robust material and, with appropriate care, will last you a lifetime.
(That is, unless, you’re very rich and want to buy two copies of every edition – one to read through intensely and the other to collect … if your pockets are capable of doing this then, well done to you! 🙂 )
And that is all I have to say about book-keeping and collecting, my fellow readers.
Next post will be about something I haven’t yet thought of … don’t worry, something’ll come to mind!)